Tonight Jews worldwide celebrate Passover, a commemoration of G-d liberating us from slavery in Egypt.
Growing up in a secular household as I did where observing Shabbat and being kosher were not a thing, Passover Seder was. And I am not alone – most Jews worldwide, no matter what the level of religious observance, observe Passover Seder to some extent.
In recent times, Seder has been co-opted by some on the Left, who use it like a proverbial shank bone to bash Israel over the head.
One such group is If Not Now, whose very name is co-opted from the teaching of Hillel the Elder, who said: “If I am not for myself who is for me? And being for my own self, what am ‘I’? And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avot – Ethics of the Fathers 1.14). Hillel happens to be creator of the eponymous “sandwich” eaten at the Seder.
If Not Now have been holding what they term “liberation Seders.”
LIVE! Our final #LiberationSeder of the week at the Berkeley Jewish Federation.
Powerful photo of the If Not Now Bay Area #LiberationSeder that just finished. They joined leaders from across the country in committing civil disobedience in the name of freedom and dignity for all.
Co-opting the Passover Seder of all things is one of the most ridiculous things they could have done.
The reason for the Seder is to fulfill the biblical obligation to recount to our children the story of the Exodus from Egypt, the very purpose of which was to make us into a nation when we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, and bring us into the land of Israel which He promised as our homeland.
In other words, the Seder itself is a reminder as to the land of Israel being the homeland of the Jewish people, as well as our indigenousness to the land – as opposed to those who arrived at the time of the Muslim conquest in the 7th century and later on (who have rights of longstanding presence which, funnily enough, do not include bombing buses and shooting and stabbing people).
This all is, of course, something people like If Not Now members dispute, but without which there is no purpose at all behind the Seder. Unless you really like gefilte fish and constipation.
To give a pertinent if not imperfect analogy, if I were to protest to highlight the evils of Facebook, I sure as hell wouldn’t send out invitations to the protest by creating a Facebook meeting event.
עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיֽם עַתָּה – בְּנֵי חוֹרִין
Avadim hayinu lepharo bemitzrayim, ata – benei chorin
We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt – now we are free.
Well, some of us anyway. Others are slaves to a colonized view of their own identity.